PVDSigns - Old-Fashioned Signs Around Providence

Kay Belardinelli talks about PVDSigns

Kay Belardinelli

Tell us about PVD Signs and your connection to it?

PVD Signs is a website showcasing the amazing hand-painted and old-fashioned signs found throughout Providence. This project began in 2013 as a Tumblr blog run by local designer Sam Holland, who was my roommate at the time. I had always had an interest in exploring old abandoned buildings, and that dovetailed nicely with capturing this one facet: signs. Eventually, I took over the reins and turned the PVD Signs project into a full website, as it is today. It now has over 350 signs, documented from all corners of the city.

One of the photos from PVDSigns.com

What was the most interesting sign you folks have captured? The most mysterious? The funniest?

Interesting: The building on Broad Street with the huge hand-done letters reading "YES WE OPEN", painted after re-opening from the COVID-19 shutdown, has this very strong feeling of urgency. I wonder how that sign will be adapted (or not) as conditions evolve.

Mysterious: There is an enormous handpainted sign in lower Smith Hill that reads "Westcott, Slade & Balcom Co.". It is behind the Coca-Cola warehouse and is visible from almost nowhere publicly accessible. The surrounding buildings, which I assume were built more recently, obscure the sign from viewers, but also probably help preserve it from fading in the sun.

Funny: This sign that says "Aroom’s it’s not just a store it’s a style!" just reads so strange to me! The abundance of apostrophes throws me off, and the lowercase "j" looks like it's on backwards.

What makes Providence so special to you?

I love all the old warehouses in various stages of decay, being reclaimed by the earth. They remind me of the impermanence of humanity, and the transience of life. Eventually the little handpainted signs fade into obscurity and vestiges of human touch disappear. I've lived in fives cities and four states, and Providence has my favorite collection of old buildings.

If you mapped out a tour for visiting friends, where would you take them in Providence?

A stroll down Broadway, pick up Glow Cafe for lunch, picnic at Swan Point, Not Just Snacks for dinner, then walk along the Woonasquatucket River downtown!

What are some of the best kept secrets in Providence as far as buildings/places?

Special Collections at Providence Public Library, Sankofa World Market, and the "Ghost Bridge".

How can folks find PVD Signs (website, social media)?